MaxPower October 14th, 2008

After being politically active in my youth (10 years ago = youth??) I am now firmly apolitical mainly due to my rising overall levels of cynicism. This election is no different. That being said, I have always and will always vote.

But my one big complaint is at least somewhat related to what Gord has mentioned here. A general lack of communication from candidates. Out of the whole campaign I got 2 pieces of electoral mail, both from the incumbent candidate, one pointing out what has been achieved since the last election and one reminding me to vote.

A Conservative will be elected in my riding no question. However I didn’t receive one phone call, one flyer, one door knock or anything at all from the 5 other candidates in my riding. Hell I showed up at the voting booth today and found out there were two three! candidates I had never even seen a sign for and didn’t know their names (one of them was the Green candidate – the Greens made the inexcusably bad decision to put up “Green” signs without candidate names on them). If I was running for election versus a juggernaut I’d knock doors until my hand bled.

Maybe I am old-fashioned but perhaps the problem with voter apathy is the lack of face to face communication. I dislike town-hall debates as they tend to turn into partisan rant-fests, but I want to see my candidate face to face, or at least know their freaking name before I show up to vote. I know from the past that I have been favourably inclined towards candidates who show up to shake my hand and explain their platform even if I am fundamentally opposed to every one of their platform items. Not saying I would vote for them, but more favourable? Yes. In one case in the past during a city election I threw my vote to the one guy (was a 22 yr old student) who was the only candidate to show up at my condo (he lost… huge).

Is this due to the net and overall web presence increasing? Should I feel more attached to a candidate due to a facebook page or a twitter stream? Perhaps some will. However I feel that you bring back the door knocking and I’d bet we’d see an increase in voter participation. This is one case where web 2.0-ness doesn’t cut it for me.

If I don’t know a candidate’s name by the end of the election did they really run?

  • I feel I should vote. Do you my part. Be active.

    Who am I going to vote for? Damned if I know. It’ll be a crap shoot when I take a look at the card. Why? Because I have no idea who’s who. I am the furthest from anyone even remotely interested in politics, but I am a Canadian citizen, one who votes, and I feel that I am in the dark. Am I being stubborn because I don’t “hunt” or “research” on my own? I don’t think that I am, no.

    How many others out there are in my boat? Probably a lot. And as a result, thousands of votes will be made today with zero thought put into them because the people casting them don’t have a clue.

  • Ducati AGB

    The most frustrating thing for me is that I live in a province where it really doesn’t matter what one votes for, the Conservatives are going to be voted in. To me, unless you are living in a riding where there is potential for change, then I find myself asking what is the point?

  • Ducati – I think a lot of people feel that way, not just here but in other ridings where they know their candidate will lose. First off, the party you vote for (as long as they get more than 2% of the popular vote) gets $1.75/year from your vote. So assume 3 years between elections (the new norm?) and by showing up and voting you’ll give a donation of about $6 to the party of your choice. Adds up.

    Secondly, there seems to be a feeling among some that Canada’s first past the post system is inherently inferior to a proportional representation-type system (due to the exact issue you referred to). I know when I was taking political science in university that was my opinion, however after seeing how various European countries have dealt with PR systems I have to say that I think it simply leads to a tyranny of the minority. Generally the major parties (two or three) get 20 – 30% of the popular vote and then need to make a coalition with other splinter parties. In such systems it is usually the fringe parties (on both sides of the political spectrum) which are the king-makers in alliances. As such, those countries tend to have less stable governments with less consistent policies. I know a lot of people think PR is the be all and end all of democratic systems, however I have my doubts. The grass isn’t always greener.

    Plus we could always just pass a law making it mandatory to vote like Australia, but then again like So-Co said, you’d have a bunch (~40%) of people who would choose not to vote making decisions based on nothing? A coin flip? Again, I don’t know if that is better.

  • Read on CBC this morning that we had the lowest turnout ever in Canada for voting.

    About 13.8 million people voted, or 59.1 per cent of registered electors… …which appears to be a record low in the history of the country.

  • Ducati AGB

    It absolutely does not surprise me that only 59 % of voters actually turned up. This election was all about political strategy in the sense that the Conservatives thought they could catch the Libs with their pants down, which they absolutely did but at the same time alienated Quebec via policy and allowed the BQ to pick up steam. It just feels frustrating and that it was a terrible waste of time and money. The 2000 election cost 200 million dollars, and I would have to think that this one couldn’t have been cheaper. It sickens me to think that money could have been used to do something positive around real issues that the government should be trying to solve.

  • Eh… I understand where you are coming from but that is a minority government for you.

    Complaining about the cash spent is a bit of a red herring, it is merely the cost of a democracy. Minority governments come with more frequent elections. Italy has had 61 governments since 1945 with proportional representation. Canada has had 20. Complaining about government “waste” could be a full time job, but I would never classify the money spent on an election to be a waste. And let us not forget this is ultimately what politicians do, who could forget the “early” election calls of one Mr. Jean Chretien.

    1997: Chretien called an early election during the Manitoba flood crisis and was called “insensitive” but took advantage of the conservative vote splitting.

    2000: “Prime Minister Jean Chr├ętien has a reputation as a cautious politician, and so his decision to call an early election with all of these cards in his hand comes as small surprise” Globe and Mail: That was when he caught the Canadian Alliance with a weak, inept leader in Stockwell Day… sound like a familiar case?

    The last election which didn’t have to do with “political strategy” was… never?